‘Milking it’ – business transformation wins Northern Victorian dairy farmer prestigious Australasian award
A cleverly-executed business plan to transition her milk pool to a premium product has seen Northern Victorian dairy farmer Bonita Koch take out this year’s Rabobank ‘Dr John Morris’ Business Development Prize.
Ms Koch was presented with the prestigious Australasian business prize – which is awarded annually as part of the Rabobank Executive Development Program (EDP) – at the program’s graduation dinner in Sydney late-last month.
The changes Ms Koch made to her dairy farm business, after returning home from the first module of the program in August last year, saw her reposition the business’ milk pool toward premium A2 protein milk, in a move to shore up the long-term viability of the enterprise.
Ms Koch, together with her husband Merv, milk 700 cows on their 270-hectare property north-east of Tongala. Born and raised on dairy farms in New Zealand, the couple made the move to Australia 18 years ago as part of a sharefarming arrangement, before going out on their own in 2006.
It was during the first week of the Executive Development Program – a course designed to enhance the commercial management skills of Australian and New Zealand rural entrepreneurs – that Ms Koch first considered transitioning the farm’s milk pool to a premium product.
“The program helped set the strategic direction of our business,” Ms Koch said, “and also gave me the confidence to look outside the square at other options and not stay the same as everyone else”.
Ms Koch said her “light bulb” moment was a